duct duct duct DUCTS.ORG Issue 12 | Winter 2003 the webzine of personal stories   duct
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So here's the thing...

Have you hugged your crystal egg today?

Bill Bilodeau

have to say, I was against the idea even before the egg. It's not that it isn't a nice egg - on the contrary, it's beautiful, about five inches long and made of crystal. Also, since it weighs about 25 pounds, it makes me feel more secure having it nearby in case those zombies from the new "Dawn of the Dead" show up.

I just don't really like it lying next to me in bed at night.

Okay, technically, it's not really in the bed. It's on the nightstand, which is, itself, a good four, maybe five inches from my head when I sleep.

The egg is the latest addition to the shrine.

The shrine appeared when we decided to buy the van.

The van? It's a lease buyout deal, the kind where you finish the lease and the company begs you to buy the car so they don't have to take it back. We got it because my sister, who goes through leases like The Riddler goes through magic markers, traded up again, to a Lexus. So she offered us her leftover, fully loaded and hardly used, for a ridiculous price. Our current van is ten years old, but drives like it's 50. The new one is two, but drives like it's only 17 months.

But, and there's always a but, it's juuuuuuust a bit outside . of our financial situation right now. But this is AMERICA, where the Godless Communists, the self-sacrificing al-Qaida or even the Dean-loving liberals can't stop us from overextending ourselves to buy bigger, better stuff.

So we committed to the van, which means we're looking for a bit of a fiscal boost, an opening just big enough for my wife to slip through.

"Hey, Sweetie," she said, as she always does when the hammer's about to fall, "You know the corner of the yard behind the blueberry bushes?"

"I'm familiar with it."

"Well, I think we should clean it up."

And so it begins.

"Uh, OK."

She looks at me expectantly, waiting for the obligatory question. I'm not budging. I've been here before.

"Don't you want to know why."

"Do I hafta?"


"OK, why?"

She doesn't really have to answer. The reason I show no interest isn't because I have no interest; it's because I know the answer. I've already seen the books piled up on the kitchen table and, as I said, I've been here before.

There were the books on painting that preceded "Sweetie, do you like the color of the kitchen?"

There were the books on decking that arrived shortly before "Sweetie, have you noticed how uneven the back stairs are?"

And, of, course, the books on outbuildings that showed up right before "Sweetie, don't you hate the look of the shed?"

OK, when I say she doesn't have to answer, I mean she doesn't have to answer for my benefit. Of course she has to answer to satisfy herself.

"I know you don't take this stuff very seriously, but I was reading about feng shui, and that corner is our prosperity corner. If it's not in order, we won't be able to fully realize our financial goals. And since we're putting a lot of money into the van, it seems like a good idea."

"I see." I really don't, at least in the sense of agreeing. I mean, feng shui? That fad's so gone I stopped making fun of it five years ago, for Chrissake. And it wasn't that great a source of fun to begin with. After you stop trying to pronounce it and laughing about the idea of grown men painting their offices puce and turning their desks to the southeast, what's left?

At least that's what I thought at the time. Then, serendipitously (I can't believe that word just made it through spellcheck; and yet, "spellcheck" itself didn't), I came across a Los Angeles Times story at work explaining how big feng shui is becoming in corporate America. Coca Cola, Ford, Hewlitt Packard, even Rupert Murdoch are big fans. Murdoch reportedly changed the location of his office in accord with the feng shui principles of being "fair and balanced."

But it didn't stop there. Next came the crystal in the front hallway "so the good fortune won't run down the stairway and out the front door." At least, not without holding the railing. My wife has a thing about that, too.

Then there was "we have to keep the oven clean at all times and use all four burners the same amount of the time." I'm still not sure what that one's about, though I think it has something to do with the flow of energy and non-stick cookware.

Finally it came down to the following exchange:

ME: "Honey, why did you cover my bedside table with Indian prints, put a big, fat crystal egg on it and hang a mirror behind it all?"

HER: "Sweetie, you know how that corner of our yard near the hill is the prosperity corner? Well, that corner of our room is also the prosperity corner, if the room where we sleep isn't in order, we can't dream of wealth, and if we can't do that, we can't ."

ME: "OK, stop, just stop there. I don't want to know."

But she told me anyway. Now, it's 5:37 a.m. and in the early morning light I'm staring at my reflection in a mirror beside my bed, only instead of my face is a giant crystal egg, behind which is the image of my hair, which makes it look exactly like the egg has my hair. It's a good look for the egg.

But so far, no unexpected prosperity. Now, she's talking about putting a mirror over the stove.

I don't know what to make of all this. I knew my wife was nuts when I married her, but she's cute as hell. When we first dated, she took me to "spook church," a small congregation in Brockton, Mass., where the preacher was a 70-year-old woman who purportedly could "see" spirits from your life, those who had shed their mortal coil and slipped off behind door number 3. She told me my father was hanging around, no big feat once she'd asked me who in my life was missing.

After she (my wife, not the spooky old lady) left me to move to Florida with a woman from work (don't even go there), I visited her. She was hanging around with a woman who said she could channel the spirit of some long-ago warrior, and claimed the three of us had been connected decades earlier in a previous life by our profession, which was racing formula 1 cars.

While in Florida, I also attended a spoon-bending session with a group of new-age self-helpers. After what seemed like hours, I was able to bend a fork over double, although it seemed to be more the result of sheer force and heat from rubbing the thing for so long than any cosmic vibration.

My point is, I have an open mind. I don't necessarily believe in a supreme being, but I do accept there are things out there beyond what can reasonably be explained by scientific methods (Anna Nicole Smith being at least two of them). So I'm willing to wake up face-to-face with a hairy egg every morning if it will help make us some money.

Did it work? Well, prosperity is a relative concept. It's kinda like those fortunes you used to get in cookies at a Chinese restaurant, before the lawyers had them changed to lottery picks and pointless platitudes: If they're vague enough, almost anything could be interpreted as coming true.

The same goes for our good financial fortune. If I work overtime to make a little more dough, is that prosperity, at the cost of time with my family? Since she put up the shrine, we've gotten a statement on our investments, telling us they've lost two grand in the past three months. Doesn't sound prosperous, but who knows how bad it could have been if not for the shrine? Maybe it's the only thing standing between us and financial ruin.

Or maybe it's a more complex strategy wherein my wife takes away my bedside table space, meaning I can't keep a book there, so I won't read in bed and will get more sleep, giving me more energy to become a better provider.

Either way, I figure the thing can't hurt.

God knows my writing isn't putting any granola on the table.


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